From mid-February through March, we are currently and will be witnessing hundreds of parents standing in excruciating long lines at various local banks. They are waiting to pay up the fees for their children to sit the entrance examinations at their targeted universities. Banking staff will make a beeline to assist every customer walking through the bank door, scouring his/her hands for the documents the parent will invariably be holding.

Every Japanese parent with a college-admissions-hopeful child also knows the MARCH acronym.

What does MARCH stand for? March alludes to the all-important March period during which the top-ranking universities hold their entrance examinations. The Center Shiken, and exams of lower ranking or less prestigious private universities are held in the runup to the March period.

MARCH is also an acronym for the elite grouping that stands for Meiji, Aoyama Gakuin, Rikkyo, Chuo and Hosei (Japanese universities)